September is National Preparedness Month and this year’s theme is “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead, You Can.” Before I had even sat down to write this “Our Space,” we were slapped in the face by Hurricane Harvey and following closely is Hurricane Irma. Neither were your typical run of the mill hurricanes. While Harvey wasn’t the biggest hurricane in history, the fact that it sat right over Houston and dumped trillions of gallons of water in the same area made it unprecedented. Irma is huge and powerful from the get go, a “monster storm.”
The reason our industry successfully survives such massive storms is that they plan ahead and they come together and support one another when they are faced with situations that can’t be planned for. Many of you have heard me say repeatedly, “It’s not the plan, but the act of planning that is so important in responding to emergencies and disasters.” No plan can anticipate every potential scenario, such as 50 inches of rain over a weekend, but when you practice planning you learn how to adapt and respond to whatever you face. It is also very comforting to know that when the challenges you face are unprecedented, your friends, your colleagues, and the American public will come to your rescue as it has repeatedly.
Another key component to preparedness is personal preparedness. It is imperative that each and every person be prepared for emergencies. I am always somewhat surprised to see the shelves empty ahead of storms. If you wait until the last minute to prepare, you run the potential to find yourself without… without food and water, without batteries, and without first aid supplies. The web is filled with excellent advice and planning resources to help you, the individual, plan for emergencies. A good place to start is www.ready.gov. I encourage you all to plan, be prepared and be ready to face the next disaster awaiting you around the corner. You can also rest assured that your colleagues and friends in the blood industry have your back when you face the next unprecedented event.
Ruth Sylvester; Director, Regulatory Servicces